I wrote this in December 1988, a few days after going out with a few colleagues from ABC, with one of whom I was in some sort of mostly unrequited love. It was very cold; I got very drunk and then, in the Christmas fair in Leicester Square, went on the rides including one of those that turns you upside down and shakes your brain around inside your skull. I suffered migraine-strength hangover headaches for the next three days. I haven't done very well on such rides ever since; now that Nate is 12 I avoid them completely. Christmas was always the time I thought about going home to my parents' house, which I usually tried to do in those days. The poem was published in Montreal, in Shadowplay 3 in 1992, and in Foolscap 17, in London, in 1995. It may also have appeared in a magazine called Iota...
Cold winds come in from Iceland or
Somewhere further west. In Leicester
Square the ferris wheel turns, then
Freezes at its apex. I look down Piccadilly
Seeing streets in double vision, you in blur.
I had a dream: there was a fire burning in
My parents' house, glowing walls of weeping
Willow turning black. I was trapped here
On the wrong side of the ocean. You were
Happy there, on the wrong side of my life.
The house was gone before I came down.
I woke. Invented new ways to dodge you,
Pretend you were not there, pretend
It was not your country & wonder why
I want you even though I cannot share
This foreign shore? There is no answer
To a dream. Except perhaps another dream.
Kettle drum echoes either will or will not end.
This is yet another country, this reality,
& I am just a visitor here & tired of pretend.